Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sid Salter: Wayne Wedie's Long Shadow

One of the state’s best known and most influential political journalists of the 1970s and 1980s died last week after a courageous battle with cancer. I will sorely miss him.

Wayne Weidie died Aug. 15 at his home in Venice, FL. He was 78. He was one of the great friends and professional associates of my life – a man with whom I shared a lot of laughter and front-row seats to some of the most intriguing political dramas in Mississippi’s last half-century.

We were members of a relatively small tribe of Mississippi opinion/editorial writers plying our trade in Mississippi newspapers in the days in which newspapers were in the apex of their strength, influence, and circulation. It was before the Internet and social media and before people sought their news on websites and in Tweets.

Both Wayne and I penned weekly political columns from our perches as publishers of small-town Mississippi weekly newspapers. The columns were syndicated to many of the state’s weekly and daily newspapers.

For a number of years, the state’s largest newspaper in Jackson on Sundays published a “Mississippi Perspective” page that featured the op/ed columns of Ole Miss journalism professor S. Gale Denley of Bruce (also publisher of the Calhoun County Journal), Weidie, who published the Ocean Springs Record and Gautier Independent, esteemed longtime Mississippi journalist Bill Minor, and my column.

The page gave readers an interesting mix of views – Denley and Minor were both proud Democrats while Weidie and I more often than not leaned Republican. But even in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mississippi Republicans were still solidly in the minority – particularly in legislative and local politics. Despite partican and policy differences, Denley, Weidie and I were the closest of friends.

For several years, Minor, Denley, Weidie and I were frequent guests on a Mississippi Public Broadcasting TV public affairs program called “Mississippi Week” hosted by the late Howard Lett. In that era, it was must-see TV for the state’s politicos.

Weidie, Denley and I would usually meet in Jackson and grab a sandwich before taping the show. Over lunch, we’d often try to decipher what position Minor would take on the issues of the day and then all three take the contrary position just to mess with him. Minor usually held his own on the air but would bark at us when the cameras were off.

Denley, Minor and now Weidie are gone, leaving me as the last of that set of Mohicans. Talented columnist Charlie Mitchell stepped away from weekly columns at the very top of his game. David Hampton is now doing the Lord’s work for real at Wells Church. Up in Rolling Fork, Ray Mosby soldiers on with courage and flair.

Wyatt Emmerich, Tim Kalich and Jack Ryan remain hard chargers. There are others who share their views on a regular basis with their readers. I admire them all and appreciate their contributions to public discourse in Mississippi.

Wayne was successful in political journalism, successful later in life as chief of staff for former 4th District U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor on Capitol Hill and later as a governmental affairs consultant before his retirement. In his last years, he returned to journalism in a new way – as author of The Weidie Report political blog.

Yes, the old dog learned new tricks – but the writing style was still the same - blunt, piercing, unflinching, and zealous. Wayne continued raising hell about national and state politics, sports, and our culture until cancer made him too weak to continue.

Weidie gravitated to Republican candidates in Mississippi when they were the outsiders, the insurgents, against the monolithic Democratic Party. He wanted to shake things up and work for change. Wayne never lost his respect and admiration for blue collar Mississippians and his work defended and celebrated them. A baseball man, Wayne called balls and strikes without fear or favor.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at

Kingfish note: Mr. Weidie will be missed.  Check out his website and biography.


Anonymous said...

I learned more about Sid than Wayne in this article-

InsertSarcasmHere said...

Wayne was a wonderful man. He will be missed.

Anonymous said...

8:43 then you must have a serious reading comprehension problem.

Yes, Salter did make references to himself and Weidie in the first few paragraphs along with others (Denley, Minor) but the references to himself were no more than making the connection for various activities of Weidie. Then in the last three or four paragraphs, they are all about Weidie and his career.

Try reading it again - if you still feel the same, report yourself to the MDE and ask for permission to take the 3rd grade reading gate test to determine your level of understanding.

(PS - KF, check your spelling in the headline.)

Anonymous said...

Sid is Side's biggest fan!!

Anonymous said...

Never heard of him, must of not been that important............

Anonymous said...

Wayne Weidie was a great political writer.

Anonymous said...

Weidie's son holds an infamous part of Mississippi State's baseball history. His son, Stuart hit a grandslam off Jeff Brantley for University of New Orleans at the 1984 regional in Starkville. Helped send UNO to the College World Series. One of the worst losses in Ron Polk"s Career. I was there that night. The quietest I ever heard Dudy Noble.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS